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5. A Regional Framework for Planning and Action

Planning Framework at a Regional Scale

Erie-Niagara Framework for Regional Growth

This effort is a broad two-county collaboration to examine existing conditions, regional trends, and inter-municipal and multicounty precedents for action. It is defining principles and best practices for smarter growth and developing a consensus among regional leaders for future action. Finally, the work includes creating a toolkit and detailed action plan that will, “…provide policy, regulatory, investment and governance recommendations as well as timelines, responsibilities, resource requirements, and progress indices for both region-wide and area-specific projects and initiatives.” The work is scheduled to conclude in 2003.

Erie-Niagara Economic Development Strategy

The economic strategy will propose a series of planning and development activities for the two-county region for implementation with the Erie-Niagara Framework for Regional Growth. Part of this effort will address the recommendations of the two-county Economic Development Working Group to develop four themes: (1) the current picture, (2) a vision for economic development, (3) a regional economic development strategy, and (4) creation of a seamless “one-stop shop” from the perspective of the consumer of economic development services. The plan will include recommendations for structural reforms, industry targets for development, and ongoing research and monitoring.

Buffalo Niagara Cultural Tourism Initiative

The Cultural Tourism Committee of the John R. Oishei Foundation has commissioned a comprehensive plan for cultural tourism development. The plan will produce an inventory of tourism assets and opportunities, a market analysis of current and potential cultural tourists, regional priorities for development, and implementation mechanisms. The work involves substantial data collection based on the premise that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” The data work includes establishing a set of performance indicators that can measure progress on the plan, evaluate marketing and product-development strategies, and assess the economic impact of arts, culture, and cultural tourism.

Buffalo-Niagara Economic Development Agencies Performance Audit

The audit determined that the Buffalo Niagara region must transform its fragmented economic development services delivery system or face continued difficulty in attracting and retaining business. In an eight-county region of 1.6 million people, six major economic development organizations and five smaller ones offer more than 40 separate financial assistance or tax incentive packages, each with its own application and approval process. The audit found problems at all scales of service delivery and in program coordination between agencies. Recommendations to rationalize the system are already being implemented, including the reorganization of services provided by the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corporation, and the Office of Strategic Planning in the City of Buffalo. Other promising steps are anticipated in the coordination of the audit with the Erie-Niagara Framework for Regional Growth and the Erie-Niagara Economic Development Plan efforts.